KRT Judges and Lawyers Begin Talks on Second ‘Mini-Trial’

Lawyers, judges and administrative officials at the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal began talks Wednesday on when a second trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan could start, and whether it would be necessary to establish a second panel of judges to hear it.

The meeting took place on the back of a Supreme Court Chamber decision that ordered Case 002/02 to start “as soon as possible” and consider crimes including genocide, a Khmer Rouge worksite, and a cooperative.

Tony Kranh, acting director of the court’s Office of Administration, told the Trial Chamber judges, who were questioning him on the feasibility of a second trial, that the establishment of a second panel of judges would be at their discretion. The current panel is in the midst of deliberating on Case 002/01 and considering a verdict.

Mr. Kranh said the office would “lend support financially and materially” to a second mini-trial and could “foresee no obstacles” in it moving forward.

His deputy, Knut Rosandhaug, echoed this and said that there would be no financial impediments to a second trial.

Trial Chamber Judge Silvia Cartwright, however, raised a number of concerns about how the case would proceed in the event that a second judging panel is not established, particularly in the wake of a funding crisis that saw national staff at the court go unpaid for months this year.

“Once it starts, we don’t want there to be any obstacles, be they administrative” or otherwise, she said.

“Have you taken into account the time judges would need at a time when they are invested totally in a verdict?” she asked the prosecution, who want the trial to proceed before the same judging panel.

Nicholas Koumjian, who was formally appointed Wednesday as international co-prosecutor after replacing former prosecutor Andrew Cayley, argued that plans need to be made as soon as possible to ensure that the case can get underway. Prosecutors said it would be possible to start by the end of February.

“Now that you’ve had this meeting, we urge Your Honors to start Case 002/02,” he said.

“It is in the interest of justice…victims…and donors that we have a plan so that we can terminate or finish our work [if a second mini-trial does not go ahead].”

He told Judge Cartwright that judges at the Special Court in Sierra Leone were able to adjudicate one case while deliberating another.

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